Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Virgin Labfest 6: Set... play!

From Rody Vera's Facebook, more details about VLF 6, to run June 23-July 4 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. See ya there.

All set for YEAR 6 of Virgin Labfest. Here are the sets. Temporary pa lang ang mga titles ng bawat set, but I guess you'd get a glimpse of what's in store per show!

SET. Pas de Deux. two actors in one play can cook up a hurricane!
1. ONDOY by remi velasco
2. HIGIT PA DITO by allan lopez
3. COLLECTOR'S ITEM by juliene mendoza

SET. Pariah Paraiso. don't we just love watching the dregs of society, the lumpen, the unclean
3. ISAGANI by alexis dorola

SET. Pecado Mortal. incest! abortion! revolution!
1. SA PACKAGE COUNTER by isa borlaza
2. MATYAG by u eliserio, maynard manansala and chuckberry pascual (collaboration)
3. SUOR CLARA by floy quintos

SET. Pink Pestibal. and of course, what's a festival without queers?
1. CARMI MARTIN by j. dennis teodosio
2. HULING HABILIN NG SIRENA by layeta bucoy
3. A FISTFUL OF SAND by arlo de guzman

VLF 5 REVISITED: watch them again here:
2. ISANG ARAW SA KARNABAL by nicolas pichay
3. BOY-GEL ANG GELPREN NI MOMMY by shielfa alojamiento

The three entries in VLF 5 Revisited happen to be my top choices as well from last year's Labfest:

Doc Resureccion, Gagamutin ang Bayan. Layeta Bucoy’s “Doc Resureccion, Gagamutin ang Bayan” [was] the Labfest standout, and, incidentally, the latest noteworthy collaboration between Bucoy as playwright and Tuxqs Rutaquio as director.

Bucoy’s template in the last two Labfests had been the dark domestic drama. Both “Ellas Inocentes” in 2007 (also that year’s finest entry) and “Las Mentiras de Gloria” in 2008 were about fetid secrets buried in middle-class sibling relationships.

In “Doc Resureccion,” that hermetic two-character set-up has been replaced by a five-member extended family set against a more panoramic social milieu.

Jonathan Tadioan, Crispin Pineda and Riki Benedicto in Layeta Bucoy's “Doc Resureccion, Gagamutin ang Bayan,” directed by Tuxqs Rutaquio

A well-off doctor is running for town mayor; his ne’er-do-well fisherman cousin, bearing the same surname, is paid by the incumbent in a cynical move to game the system by confusing voters and stealing votes away from the appealing upstart.

Now the doctor is back in the dump he had fled long ago, begging the cousin and his family to withdraw from the race. By implication, his starched good intentions, fancy catchphrases and improved station in life give him a greater right to the town’s seat of power than his cousin’s more dubious motivations.

That, in any case, appeared to be the scheme. Until the play, with its increasingly savage dialogue, took a shocking turn near the end, involving a fish hook and a ripped-out eyeball.

It was a blindsiding, nightmarish punctuation to Bucoy’s incrementally constructed image of a body politic corroded to the core by lifelong class inequalities and hatreds, stoked in turn for Machiavellian ends by shadowy puppeteers.

An unsparing vision, “Doc Resureccion” had the searing smell of truth—helped along by the strongest cast assembled for a Labfest entry this year, led by young actors Jonathan Tadioan and Riki Benedicto.

Isang Araw sa Karnabal. In “Isang Araw sa Karnabal,” expertly directed by Chris Millado and marvelously played by Skyzx Labastilla and Paolo O’Hara, Pichay sketched in precise, tragicomic strokes the dysfunctional interaction of two people scarred for good by their desaparecido experiences (the girl her father, the boy a brother).

General Palparan’s name was mentioned; he was never seen, but like a malevolent ghost, he and what he stood for was the inevitable ghoul at the end of the carnival tunnel, forever haunting the lives of these two characters.

Boy-Gel ang Gelpren ni Mommy. Politics of a different sort--the gender and cultural kind--made a welcome, thought-provoking appearance in Sheilfa Alojamiento’s play about lesbianism, “Boy-Gel ang Gelpren ni Mommy.” Alojamiento is a Davao-based writer, and this play, directed with assured quirky charm by Carlo Pacolor Garcia, was her debut in the Labfest.

Karenina Haniel, Che Ramos and Unika Zapata in Sheilfa Alojamiento’s “Boy-Gel ang Gelpren ni Mommy,” directed by Carlo Pacolor Garcia

Mom, long separated from Dad, is taking in a new lover who looks like a girl but dresses and moves like a boy and is named Jun (June, it turns out). The kids, a boy and a girl, are confused. Who’d be the man of the house?

“Si Mommy ang boy, siya ang mas matanda at naghahanap-buhay,” says the bossy elder kid--just one of the play’s telling lines.

In an inspired bit of casting, the boy was played by a girl--Karenina Haniel, who proved to be remarkably plausible in the role even as she remained evidently of the female species. At its best, her straight-faced gender-bending furthered the play’s point about the changing, malleable nature of common gender pegs.


Anonymous said...

parang sila sila na naman. even the directors na gumagawa. sila sila din taon taon. Ang hindi ko lang naapreciate sa virgin labfest, ultimately parang nagiging director showcase na. nawawala na ang focus sa material. after virgin labfest, may material ba na narevise? parang wala naman. iyong ang habal habal play, is actually good. pero nuong succeeding labfest na pinalabas siya, parang lalong humaba (or maybe it was the actors).

Anonymous said...

I love ISAGANI. of all the plays in the fest, i guess this is the best so far. (one of the bests of the decade) .. Kudos to the new writer mr. yasuda, the great director atty. tanada, and the magnificent actors, mr. san antonio as Isagani and mr. larena as the conscience/ego!! The lights, the music, the set.. all unified to show a wonderful production.. Artists should see this. Mabuhay ang sining!

Anonymous said...

to first message..

I agree.

in the open forum Last wednesday, I already asked that question....

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